How Sprint Nextel turned around customer service


This blog post comes to you live from the second annual Forrester Customer Experience Forum 2010 at the Grand Hyatt in New York. The theme of the event is creating breakthrough customer experiences. Dan Hesse, CEO, Sprint Nextel, discusses how Sprint has improved it customer service rankings — a process he calls a “long, multi-year journey.”

With self-effacing humor, he states that he’s sure many in the audience are surprised to see Sprint talking at a conference on customer service. He admits that at the beginning of 2008, cost cutting at Sprint hurt the Sprint brand, damaged customer service, and cost the company revenue. So he helped Spring get focused on three simple objectives: improving the Sprint customer experience, improving the brand, and generating more revenue.

The key to Sprint’s improvement was embracing “The Magnificent 7” in 2008 — 7 customer service operating principles around which the company would rally. For example, Sprint would align compensation and rewards around clear metrics like improving customer satisfaction and reducing the volume of customer care calls. Sprint pledged to analyze religiously root causes of customer unhappiness and hold its managers accountable for the problem, be it a needlessly complicated rate plan or a dropped call.

Sprint also simplified its rate plans, which were causing confusion among customers and contributing to a perception that Sprint was not customer centric. And Sprint created a series of TV ads holding itself accountable for better customer service.

In short, Sprint made customer care the entire company’s business — not just a problem for its call center.

Within two years, Sprint reduced calls to its care center by more than 30 percent and overall improved its customer satisfaction scores. In 2010, Sprint was one of three firms that saw the biggest improvement in the Forrester Research Customer Experience rankings.

But “most imporoved does not cut it,” Dan concludes. He vows to make Sprint the leader in customer service — a journey that began in 2008 when one CEO aligned his entire company around simple improvement goals.

11 thoughts on “How Sprint Nextel turned around customer service

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  4. Sprint really needs to worry about also keeping keeping their customers happy – particularly in regards to pricing across the network. How silly is it to have two unlimited use plans on the same network with over a $50 difference between them? As a Sprint customer, I think the company needs to work on realizing how a uniform pricing plan that will benefit all customers – new and old. Feel the same? Email Sprint’s President and let him know how unfair this difference is –

  5. Rob, I\’ll see if I can get a copy of his presentation with the Magnificent 7. Kimberly, thank you for weighing in. Forrester CEO George Colony also said (in a Tweet) that Sprint\’s real problem is that a positive customer experience is the phone, not the service.

  6. I\’m interested in the magnificent 7 cause I think It\’s not necessarily correct. Sprint would align compensation and rewards around clear metrics like improving customer satisfaction and reducing the volume of customer care calls. Lets examine this; Sprint alignment of compensation is called A GIVE Me 5 survey. On This survey as an commissioned employee. If you received anything less than a 5 you would lose 40% of your COMM. Addition to this your score is calculated by your TEAM not on a Individual Bases. So, For example you hv. 7 of 10 on your team AVG. 7=100% then lets say the other 3 workers AVG. 3=0%. This brings your TEAM Score to a 70% which means you LOOSE 40% of your Commission… NOT FAIR Because The customer That comes in with the problem is sent from the Call Center Who has pissed the customer off Extremely… If I had the time to give U the breakdown you would be amazed at How Sprint is Screwing Their Customers As Well As Their Employees…

  7. Thanks for the recap David.

    At the same time that Dan Hesse was speaking at the Forrester event in NYC, Sprint was receiving the Gartner and 1to1 Media Customer Experience Excellence Award in LA. Not an easy feat to accomplish and speaks volumes about how hard Sprint has been working to improve customer experience. You can check our website to see how ClickFox was involved in this process. Let me know if you have any questions.

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